55 Candles

Time.

Today was one of those milestone moments.  Two words kept coming to mind throughout the day:  ‘passages’ and ‘seasons’.  Different words but similar in that they both represent change.

photo of person walking near orange leafed trees
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I’m old enough now to be more aware of ‘being old’ and what that really means; not that I feel I’m old and creaky but I have friends who I met when they were around my age or older but now they are 70s and 80s; some are doing really well, but others are using walkers, canes, wheelchairs, sporting new knees, in assisted living, having memory issues, etc. I recently moved my own father into an assisted living facility.  That whole process has struck a place in my heart that had been untouched until now. Having never married, no children, no nieces and nephews, I realized, in a stark reality kind of way, that my parents are my immediate ‘family’ and to see them move into the next stage of life, likely the final stage, is somewhat alarming and frankly a bit frightening.  It has made me look at my own life in a different, more tangible, way I suppose. I remember when they were my age; and it wasn’t that long ago.

Life.

I looked out my window the other day and saw the tiny black kitten that has chosen my yard as a respite just sitting on the corner.  I stood there watching it wondering what it would do.  It did nothing. It sat there for the longest time.  I understood.  Sometimes, you just have to stop and in the middle of all the madness and wait until clarity comes… then move on and handle the situations.

Kitty on Corner

Desire.

I didn’t really have 55 candles;  I need to conserve my breath😉.   I have, however, been seriously thinking about how I want the next season of my life to play out if I have a choice.

At the end of last year, I thought I’d be deeply entrenched in working on a PhD in 2019. It didn’t work out like that, and I glad.  This year has turned out to be very difficult; no way could I have been in an academic program, but I’ve been thinking about life, and the future a lot.

Sitting in front of a TV every evening after working all day is NOT on the agenda. Traveling the country, seeing new things, meeting new people, blogging, art, IS on the agenda. Planning for this new adventure, whether is happens or not, simply gives me something to look forward to. Pouring through endless YouTube videos  has been like a RV-ing , road-tripping education. I’ve learned so much.

Grateful.

There are so many things I like about my life right now; I have a great job and one of the best boss’ ever, I have a great hobby as an artist, I have terrific friends, a wonderful church I attend.  Life is good…and life is also very challenging at times.  I have a lot of responsibilities, but I don’t mind it so much.  I make the decisions I need to make, as I need to make them, and move on, through sleepless nights, laughter, tears and all.  Thankfully, I’m good at decision making.

Not really much else to say here; just pondering on the gift of life, and how quickly it slowly rolls by, and how a lot of it is affected by the decisions we make and also how much of it happens in spite of us.  We have to be ready for it all. That’s just life.

My prayer for this time and forward is that God helps me to age gracefully, not hating old age, not complaining about it, not wishing it was other than what is, just living each day as it shows itself; full of gray hair, groaning flesh, and hopefully with His unlimited grace.

Peace and love to you😘 … I’m headed off to find senior discounts. 😜

Why’d I Paint These Babies?

Art is everything.  What I mean is, some form of artistry exists in all things. Look around your world: houses, clothes, vehicles, appliances, tools, etc. … all involve creative skill in their creation. Our entire planet and universe is an artistic, mathematical creation as well. I believe God created us in his image therefore some form of creativity is inherently within us. History verifies this by the immense volumes of artistic expression blanketing our world.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always loved art, but didn’t discover my artistic ability until later in life. As a portrait artist, I love watching life come to a drawing or painting as I add or remove whatever medium I use; that just gets me right in my soul, which is probably why portraits are what I’m best at.  My efforts at flowers, landscapes, etc., are poor to mediocre at best in my opinion.

It has been about 5 years since I’ve started drawing portraits professionally (See my artwork). I’ve been thinking about how I should use this God-given gift; I say this because I still can’t explain how I do what I do.  I’ve been blessed with getting commissioned work early on and love seeing the reactions of people who see the finished product, but I started to feel I wanted my work to serve an additional, more directed purpose.  What though?

Well, I think I found out.

Women cheering new abortion laws?? Huh? I didn’t physically see or hear this because I don’t have cable and might catch the news a couple of times per week when my antenna behaves, but I recently heard on the radio how women were cheering at the passing of a law in a State in our country  allowing for babies to be aborted after the 24-week mark to protect the mother’s health or in cases where the fetus won’t survive. OK.😶😕.

My goal is not to be political here. However, when I heard this, I was a bit stunned because a light shone brighter on the devaluing of life; obviously the life of the child, but also the life and well-being of the mother who might suffer the emotional scars of seeing/experiencing the death of her very alive child if aborted near the due date. Death, murder, abortion of innocent life can’t possibly be as clean and simple as our laws want to make it appear.

Photo by Teresa Howes on Pexels.com

I say all this as bystander of sorts, a guilty-feeling bystander, honestly.  

What have I done about it?  Not much. I’ve neither counseled a woman figuring out the next steps of an unexpected pregnancy, nor comforted a grieving woman who has walked out of a clinic without her baby. Matter of fact, I’ve never been pregnant, haven’t any nieces or nephews, and am rarely ever around children, so I often feel I don’t have the ‘street-cred’ to say or do much regarding this issue, really. Yes, I can pray for all the above, and I do, but I feel still helpless, and I hate that.

As all these things have been rambling about my head and heart in past weeks I’ve slowly had the evolution of how I can make an impact. It might seem small and insignificant to most but in doing so I hope to make a difference in the heavens at least, and in the hearts of all who see my work as a source of healing and hope.

What can I do? I can honor babies, and support their little lives. I’ve decided to focus my portrait work on “babies and children” for the next little while, in addition to other portraits. True, I’m not a mother but somehow these paintings feel like a representation of all the children I never had. In a world where children seem to be a target both ‘ in the womb’ AND ‘out of the womb’, I want to honor children through my portraiture work. I don’t know how this will evolve; as a matter of fact, children, especially babies are the most difficult to paint for me because although they have no/little hair, no teeth, and no wrinkles, the slightest wrong turn and I’m looking at E.T. on my canvas. 😕… trusting that the same God who has guided my art journey thus far will continue as I move forward with this purpose in mind.

So, in a nutshell, why did I paint these babies? Because I want to support and honor the life of these innocent ones. 👼🏻👼🏼👼🏼👼🏽👼🏾👼🏿 You know what, I can attempt that in my art. 💕

I call these two my “starter” babies. Although not the first babies I’ve drawn, they will always be remembered as my first attempts after this new purpose. The artistry might not be on point yet, but I fully expect to get better and better with each one….expressing all that is alive and well in the life of a baby from conception. So, off I go🙏🏼. Pencils and paints in hand, trying to make a difference in our world.

How are you making a difference? 😊

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”     Psalm 139:13-16

 

Love y’all!❤️

I’m Registered in Heaven. Are You?

Hi All…

When I started this blog, a couple of years ago, I primarily did so to share experiences during my personal journey to health and weight loss.  It was mostly about food; what I ate, tips, struggles, etc. After a few months I started sharing other various life events. More recently I decided I wanted to, in addition, share more about the side of life that, in reality, is the most important; that on which all other parts depend.

It’s already mid-January 2019, and honestly, it has not been the blast off that I’d hoped it would be. I actually wish I could get a restart, a trial month, or a do-over. I’ve just been feeling a bit ‘slumpish’, kind of discouraged, sometimes sad, wondering if I was getting depressed.. who knows why?  Just a series of little things pecking at my ‘stabilities’; you know relationship issues, life issues, day-to-day issues, just managing life.  There is just so much going on with so many people every day it seems – bad health diagnoses, sickness, financial crises, deaths, national/government situations, it just becomes overload sometimes. However, the magnitude of what others are going through makes my little bouts of ‘blue days’ seem not worth mentioning to anyone, so I tend not to.

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This is how I felt this Sunday morning. I’m gonna be real with you.

Getting up and going to church, literally less than a mile away, seemed it wasn’t going to happen.  I stayed in bed longer than usual and just thought about life, people, house repairs needed, friends, … you know, ‘thangs’ that keep you up in the night and in bed in the morning; processing all the good, bad and ugly news I’d processed in past days. Somehow, I managed to find the wherewithal to get up and get rolling.

I’m a Christian from the get-go; was a pew-baby and still ‘churching’ now. I love Jesus, I love church, I love the body of Christ. No shame in it for me, so that had nothing to do with my not wanting to go. 

Anyway, I get to my Connections class (a.k.a Sunday School for us oldies) as usual.  It’s a class called the Encouragers, with about 25 or so regular attendees who are mostly a generation older than I am, which is fine because I like the wisdom of people older that I am; especially in the things of God.  I have a buddy who sits near me each week now. His name is Solomon.  Solomon is 89 years ‘young’. He has dropped all sorts of wisdom tidbits in my ear for the past couple years; from concoctions to knock out cold symptoms to handling life problems.3df165b0-42be-4b24-a93a-5302636ba7be

I don’t know what your religious beliefs are, or how you feel about such but when you meet someone like Solomon, who has walked with the Lord for nearly 90 years, there is much wisdom to be gleaned.

Today, Solomon taught our class from the Bible in Psalm 1. It’s a short chapter, but powerful, direct, simple to grasp but listening to Solomon speak in his Jamaican accent about the wonders of God’s Word in this chapter transported me out of the ‘ gloomy space’ in my head by the end of class.  

I’m not planning to turn this blog into a straight up Bible study but I do plan to share how God’s Word is so relevant, timely and needed. Here is the New International Version of the chapter:

Psalm 1 (NIV)

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Solomon started by reading the Psalm.  Now, I have to stop and say,  whenever Solomon prays aloud in class, his choice of words, and phrases, along with his accent, often makes me think to myself, “He prays in King James Version”. 😍 I sometimes wish I could record it.

Anyway, in a nutshell, we discussed each of the verses. Fascinating!  In case you aren’t a Christian, or haven’t studied this before, here is my one-minute summary of what Solomon taught.

God blesses those believers who while being a light in a dark world do not make it a habit to intimately mingle with those whose heart is not towards living a Christian life; only because doing so will likely sway/seduce you away from the heart of God.

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For those who are delighted to tuck God’s work in their heart, who long for God’s word and who think on the things of God day and night.; they will be like a tree that is deep-rooted, well nourished, and well watered by a river.  They are full of sap and produce good fruit. I loved Solomon’s exposition on this part of the Psalm.  He referenced it to Psalm 92:12 (The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.) He then told of how there is a country (I don’t remember which one) where their entire economy is based on the Palm tree. All parts of the palm tree is used; the wood for homes, the leaves, for roofs, the seed for food, the oil for other things, etc.  I’m a visual person so I could so easily picture this, and how God can use his righteous ones.

But, for those who choose to do otherwise (keyword: choose) they are blown away like chaff in the wind; not able/allowed to stand before the righteous Judge in the end. Solomon explained how chaff is the trash that is left over after the winnowing process.

One of the things that stood out the most was in his closing he mentioned that those who have made the decision to live for Christ have been ‘Registered in Heaven’.

Those simple words seemed to stick in all the cracks, crevices, holes, and dents in my spirit today. They made me happy inside. All those things that were weighing on me could not stand against the thought, the reassurance that I am Registered in Heaven. Needless to say, much of the ‘blue and bleakness’ was lifted as I drove home, and the words ‘Registered in Heaven’ have rang in my ears all day today. I love that I, as a human being, was given this choice to be, and instructions on how to be, Registered in Heaven. This wasn’t a matter of not knowing this passage, but of the healing effect like balm on a wound, of God’s living Word on a soul.

I write all this not to preach and/or proselytize but rather to encourage and to give hope in Jesus.  Life is hard. You see and know that.  Things are getting more and more difficult each day. I was with a friend the other day whose father-in-law is 96 years old.  He was telling her how he’d gone out to buy a new tablecloth for his home; not only 1, but 3!  He said he’d use one but maybe the others could be used later :)…. he’s 96 people! Later??? What is ‘later’ to a 96 year old??

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That got me to thinking, you know what that is called… HOPE!  Even at 96 years old, he had hope that he might still be able to use those tablecloths one day.  That also got me to thinking about those who have no hope. Suicide is on the rise as we can see in our country; these are those who have lost all hope.  Even in the deepest, darkest days of life, it is HOPE, that clears a way to see vision for the future.

I have decided to cling to HOPE for the my future; to my Hope in Jesus. I will pray that if you are reading this blog, and you do not have HOPE, that the Lord of heaven will show and send his HOPE your way. It is real, is it stable, it sure, it is free, it is everlasting. 

May the peace of God reign in your hearts always! 😘

P.S. Let me know if you’d like to be Registered in Heaven. 🙏🏽

 

I love you with the love of Christ! ❤️

🤗🌺

Turning Over a New Year 🎉🎊

Only one day left in 2018.

I’m sitting here thinking about the past year. So many changes yet a lot has stayed mostly the same. I lost a lot of extended family, close and distant friends, and friends who were as close as family; I mean lots, more than a dozen. It seems I’ve said, “Sorry for your loss” at least monthly this year. Just odd, but it really caused me to think about my own life a lot. I felt more conscious of time. I remembered my dad, now in his 80s, always saying when in his 50s, “I have more years behind me than I do in front of me.” I was in my 20s then, now I’m in my 50s. I can sincerely say I have more years behind me than in front of me; the death of so many friends and acquaintances this year brings those words to the forefront more than ever.

So, what does that mean for my life decisions? In short, it means I want to focus on the things that are important to me. What are those things?

In no particular order:

Portraiture / Art – For most of this year, I contemplated returning to school to obtain a doctorate degree. It was just a matter of nailing down what I wanted to study and where. I reviewed/applied to a few schools and interviewed with one, in the Technology field. In the end, I decided to pit it on hold, if not nix it. Why? Because as a middle-aged woman I discovered I had a talent for art, specifically, drawing portraits. It has changed my focus more than I thought. I like my job a lot, it suit my skill set, and personality. … but I love drawing! At this point in life, I need to focus on what I love. None of the schools I reviewed sparked my heart; I was not wanting to do it even before I took the first course. Apparently, getting a doctorate was a goal, but not a heart’s desire; if that makes sense. Nope, I don’t plan to go to art school, I just plan to use my years left doing something that makes my heart happy and makes others smile! Simple. 🎨

selective focus photography of paintbrush near paint pallet
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Family/Friends – I have a small immediate family but a pretty large extended one. Thanks to social media I can keep in contact with many of them much easier than I probably would have otherwise. I also have many friends from all the schools and churches I’ve attended, and neighborhoods I’ve lived in. I’ve been thinking about the friends who are like family a lot… because I lost some this year. I have a very small group of friends who are like family to me. They know me more than anyone else really. It is important to me to work hard to maintain these friendships, keeping the air clear between us, sharing time together, and making memories.

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
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God and His Son Jesus…and children and widows. – I would have said ‘religion’ but I’m lowly interested in religion actually. … but boy, what a bone of contention the name of Jesus has become in the past few years?! My belief has been a foundation for my life though – there is no shame in that for me. I will not disparage you for what you believe but I want to be a light, a reflection of Jesus, in a dark world.

The Bible says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)

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Health/Wellness: If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I strive to be as healthy as I can. This year was a challenge after losing a significant amount of weight, but I plan to keep working at it. I want to be strong in my mind, body and spirit in order to face life boldly.

This also includes keeping an orderly physical space. I don’t know about you but clutter around my house, also clutters my mind and thought processes. For some it doesn’t matter I know but I want to minimize where necessary keeping “junk” outnof my space.

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You might want to call these four things New Year resolutions, but I don’t. I like ro call them Life Discoveries. One of the best things about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions about your life and you can live out the consequences; good or bad.

Hello 2019! Thank you Lord for breath, life, peace, salvation and hope!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! ❤️🙏🏽🎊

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Life is Precious

It’s a joyous time of the year for the most part …but for some it will be a difficult time. Many people have lost loved ones this year.

I know of a wonderful family who recently lost their father/son/husband, late 50s, diagnosed with a rare cancer just a few weeks ago. I was reminded again how life is so fragile and is but a vapor. Psalm 144:4 tells us this… “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”

I am often at a loss for words during difficult times; in spite of deep feelings I have. I am thankful for an outlet in art to express myself and share my heart.

I saw this sweet, special moment in a photo of the gentleman who passed with his only grandson and wanted to do something with it for his wife. As I studied it, I felt I wanted to convey the time, place, mood, feeling, and memory of this photo rather than the exact replication of the faces. So, I attempted to do a pen and watercolor wash to capture all the things the photo revealed to me. When I presented it to his wife, she immediately recalled the week the family was together at the time this photo was taken. It’s just a quick sketch, not my typical style, but I think it fulfilled what I’d hoped to accomplish.

Say a prayer for those who are hurting this season… and go hug your people! ❤️

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A Package From Lolli

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. That’s not unusual though.  I sat it on the bench next to the front door … and left it there.  That is unusual.

Eight days ago I called Linda (known to her family and close friends as Lolli, or Lol) because she was my go-to for essential oils and things related. We discussed Thieves(R) and whether ingesting them or not was what I should do as I was feeling a cold or something starting. A6E3EE12-8801-486D-A932-A976FE8E952CShe suggested I try the Thieves Lozenges.  I told her I wanted to try them.  Our last messages to each other that day said she was sending the Lozenges by USPS, that Thieves Lozenges was the best and I should receive them in 3 to 5 days.

The next morning I received a call from Lol’s sister, Sandra, saying,… “Lolli died.”   I can still replay the scene of me trying to process the words I just heard through all my tears.  So unexpected.

Today is a week later. I am still reeling.  It has taken me this long to even write about it. Sandra, Lolli, Angela (Sandra’s daughter/my li’l sis) and me; we formed sort of a family unit about 25 years ago when I lived with Sandra and Angela for four years. And like family we had some rough spots but we also had some the most fun, memorable times and greatest laughs ever!  I can hear Lol’s laugh right now as I am writing this. Everyone loved Lol.

So, when my package arrived yesterday, my cough-and-cold ridden body wanted to tear into it and pop some Lozenges, but I didn’t.  Somehow, now I want to keep these Lozenges forever. I am sure I will have to place another order with someone in order to try them.

I’ve spent the last week thinking a lot about life, and how quickly it can be gone. I do know Lol loved Jesus which brings great comfort, but I can’t help feel sadness for all of us who will know longer hear her infectious laugh. I am so grateful for that last conversation we had. I am so grateful for the time spent last summer hanging out with Sandra, Lol and Angela. Precious, precious moments.

I’ve had many friends and family lose loved ones just since Christmas. Hard days for many people. Everyday someone loses someone.  I am going to do better this year. I am going to make a better effort to stay in touch with those near and dear to my heart… because you never know when that last conversation, will indeed, be the last. Go hug your loved ones.

Love and hugs to you guys! ❤️🤗